looking for web image rotator that does text captions
August 18, 2006 6:13 AM   Subscribe

Web / Flash / DHTML Developers: help me find an image rotator for a website home page; I want it to take text from a config file and overlay it on the image, like a caption; some more specific requirements follow

I run the website for a non-profit visual arts / performance organization, and I would like to add an "image rotator" to the home page. This would be an app (in Flash or Javascript) that would slowly go through a slideshow of images, with some caption text. It wouldn't just randomly give me one static image each time the page loads ... it needs to change every N seconds, by itself. We have lots of events going on constantly, but there are always a few key ones that we really want to push.

I want this to be trivial for me to administer, which leads to these desires:
1. ability to upload to a designated directory and that automatically includes it in the rotation
2. failing #1, at most I have to add the image filename reference to a config file (e.g. an XML file)
3. ability to have me provide text (either in individual text file or in larger config file) and have that text overlaid at bottom of image, or directly below, as a caption.
4. no requirement for recompiling a flash app, i.e. using flash authoring tool
5. clicking on image takes browser to URL defined in text/config file
6. bonus points for pausing on mouseover
7. double bonus points for fade in/out between images
8. triple bonus points (and standing ovation) for ability to provide URL to image elsewhere on web -- not actually uploaded to my own website

If Flash, then it needs to be functional with Flash 6 at minimum.
If JS/DHTML, it needs to work in IE6 and Mozilla/Firefox.

My site is already running ASP (yuck). Rather than muck with the ASP more than I have to with this inherited site, I'd rather embed JS or Flash. But if someone knows of an ASP solution that does exactly what I'm looking for, please let me know.

I guess it looks like a lot of constraints, but these kinds of image rotators are all over the web, so I'm hoping that someone here already has experience with these and can guide me to a good one, or narrow the population down to the one's that are most well-known, stable, documented, etc.

Here are two that I found that come close:

problem: it requires a "DNN" web environment?

problem: no text overlay?

more found by Googling but none quite fit the bill

Having searched the web, the key requirement that's hard to find is that I want to specify text to overlay on the image, or show just below image. If this just isn't out there, maybe I can find a separate script/processor that will add the text via command line process. I just don't want to have to run an image editing program and manually dork around with text placement every time I get a new image to add to the rotator.

I'm not averse to paying for this, either for an off-the-shelf product or for someone here to code it up for me.
posted by intermod to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried searching with the word "slideshow" instead of "rotator"?

Would Slideshow Pro do what you want? It's highly configurable and lets you control the contents of a slideshow from an XML file. It also handles attaching links to images.
posted by bcwinters at 6:21 AM on August 18, 2006

intermod, I don't feel comfortable offering services for money in AskMe, but you don't have an email address in your profile...

I'm a Flash developer, and I could do this for you. I wouldn't charge you much, since you're a not-for-profit (and because what you want wouldn't take long to throw together -- especially if you're okay with the XML config version.)

My email IS in my profile.
posted by grumblebee at 6:46 AM on August 18, 2006

Oh, you mean "rotator" *doesn't* have to do with *rotating* images. Got it.

For the text labeling, you might check out ImageMagick, mentioned here earlier this week, which can do that sort of thing from the command line.
posted by baylink at 9:04 AM on August 18, 2006

Thanks for the responses so far! It's pretty hard to get attention in AskMefi these days ... I tried to time my question for maximum impact to professional web developers ...

bcwinters, at first glance, I don't think SlideShowPro would work for me. It doesn't work in Flash 6, and it appears to be a component that you'd pull into a larger Flash app, not a standalone Flash app.

Thanks baylink for the ImageMagick pointer.

grumblebee, unless I find what I'm looking for elsewhere I'll get in touch with you in the next couple days.
posted by intermod at 9:28 AM on August 18, 2006

intermod, I had a little time today, so I wrote the following Flash movie. No worries if you'd rather find another solution. We didn't agree on anything:


I think it meets almost all of your criteria: it won't automatically update when you add an new image to the images folder. That could be done, but not with a Flash-only solution. You'd need a server script, too. Instead, I've gone with your plan B: a simple XML config file. If that doesn't work for you, it would be fairly trivial to rig up the server-script solution (which would modify the XML file). But I think hand editing the XML will also be pretty trival for you.

The XML file looks like this:

<pics pause="10">
<pic url="images/pic1.jpg" caption="this is pic1" link="http://www.amazon.com" />
<pic url="images/pic2.jpg" caption="this is pic2" link="http://www.cnn.com" />
<pic url="images/pic3.jpg" caption="this is pic3" link="http://www.metafilter.com" />
<pic url="images/pic4.jpg" caption="this is pic4" link="http://www.yahoo.com" />
<pic url="images/pic5.jpg" caption="this is pic5" link="http://www.nytimes.com" />
<pic url="images/pic6.jpg" caption="this is pic6" link="http://www.grumblebee.com" />
<pic url="images/pic7.jpg" caption="this is pic7" link="http://www.explodingdog.com" />

Note, you can TRY using external image-links for the url attributes. That won't cause an error. But it might cause a problem in some browsers, due to Flash-payer 8 security "features."

Everything should be fairly easy to modify. The following variables are at the top of the Flash file's script:

var strPath = "pics.xml";
var strLoadMessage = "loading assets";
//what % of time after fade starts should captions switch?
var numSwitchCaptions = 50;
//miliseconds for each fade increment
var numFadePause = 50;
var tftCaption = new TextFormat();
tftCaption.color = 0xff0000;
//rightclick in Library and choose Properties to switch fonts
tftCaption.font = "captionFont";
tftCaption.size = 25;
//y position of caption, read from bottom of Stage
var numTextOffsetFromBottomOfStage = 50;
posted by grumblebee at 11:42 AM on August 19, 2006

Holy crap, grumblebee, this is fantastic. I was, and still am, totally planning to contact you to do this work, but the regular day job (not the non-profit) has a few more days of crunch time before I can slack off there and work on this.

My email address is in my profile now (obfuscated).

I'll get in touch with you soon to fine tune this and coordinate payment. Right off the bat, I think I'd want all the parameters specified in the XML file, so that I don't need a Flash file editor to modify things like fonts or fade times.
posted by intermod at 8:09 PM on August 27, 2006

And congratulations on the completion of your show :)
posted by intermod at 8:12 PM on August 27, 2006

Just to follow up on this if anyone's interested, a couple weeks after I posted this, somebody read this thread and contacted me to propose his brand new MonoSlideShow. It kicks ass. It does nearly everything I want, including #8 in my original post above, which is completely killer fantastically great. Maybe it doesn't take much to please me :)

It costs $20. Worth it! Once I've got it completely tested and launched on the site I'll link to it here.

grumblebee, I'm sorry that I didn't end up using yours. This MonoSlideShow thing was just so great I had to go with it. I'll gladly pay you for your time, just get in touch with me.
posted by intermod at 1:37 PM on September 27, 2006

Hi. I wanted to post a comment from the original thread. We sell the Data Springs Flash Image Rotator at:

Flash Image Rotator

Basically it lists above that it requires DNN but actually there is a version for DNN, Sharepoint, and also there is a plain HTML version that does not require any special environment. The settings just need to be saved in an XML file, if its used in DNN or Sharepoint you don't you can just edit the settings by opening the file in notepad etc...
posted by datasprings at 6:20 PM on June 12, 2007

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